Front Room Boys

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Alexander Buzo (1944—2006)


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A: Alexander Buzo Pf: 1969, Sydney Pb: 1970 G: Com. in 12 scenes S: An office, 1960s C: 7m, 2fEach scene takes place in a different month of the year, beginning with January. The front room clerks welcome newcomer Vittorio Gasconi and a new secretary Sundra Gerstad. The back room boys, of whom we see only the young executive Hendo, are planning cutbacks. In the stifling heat of February, the boys discuss ‘upper-crust snobs’, and Vittorio throws out of the window a picture of the Duke of Edinburgh, which lands on Hendo's head. When smoke pours out of the boardroom, the boys think there is a fire. Hendo appears, smoking a huge cigar, and is drenched by a bucket of water. While Jacko takes Sundra out to lunch, the boys throw paper and water at a street demonstration against the bosses. The demonstrators call them ‘suckers’. Jacko, now in love with Sundra, begs her to get a divorce. An annual office revue features terrible jokes, Vittorio playing Hendo getting abuse and objects hurled at him, and an oriental sequence in which Sundra looks stunningly beautiful and another secretary does a striptease. A month later, Sundra is now going out with Gibbo. They celebrate the arrival of spring by dancing around scattering a bunch of flowers, then rehearse a ceremony of unveiling a plaque listing the firm's directors, which ends with each of them kissing Hendo's shoes. At the Christmas party, some promotions are announced, but Jacko is to be sacked. Furious, he tries to get into the back room to attack Hendo, but the front room staff, hailing Hendo as ‘a good bloke’, tie him up and abandon him.

A: Alexander Buzo Pf: 1969, Sydney Pb: 1970 G: Com. in 12 scenes S: An office, 1960s C: 7m, 2f

Described by Buzo as ‘a gag-style comedy’, this play lurches from the tedious naturalism of office life to anarchic humour to absurdist moments and to agitprop satire. The front room boys are willing slaves: ‘My old man…was a union man, the fool. But not me, boy. I got here by the sweat of my brow.’ But the political point tends to get swamped by the madcap comedy.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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